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{ in a dark and heavy place }

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{ p a r t  I }

Darth Revis sat on a fluffy sofa, grinning up at nothing in particular, twirling a stylus between his fingers as his mind processed the book he was reading, notes scribbled neatly in a dual screen window on his datapad. Peace is a lie, he grinned to himself. There is only passion.

If he had only understood that before he was a Jedi Knight, he would have spent his time better instead of trying to play ‘jedi’ like some four-year-old with his mother’s clothes. How petty of him to think that nothing but the Jedi way could ever be the right one. How narrow, how simple of him.

Smoke trailed up from an incense stick in a vase, filling the large room with heady fragrance. Some found it difficult to breathe; he found it relaxing. The sleeves of his tunic were rolled up to the elbows, the black cloth familiar, comfortable. Bruises dotted his exposed skin, followed by silvery or pink scars, some razor-thin, others as wide as a pipe. Gold eyes studied the trail of smoke with a keen interest before returning to his work, the partially legible Sith script in scrawled handwriting.  

Lost in thought, the Sith barely noticed as time went by. He chewed on the end of his stylus, his thoughts moving faster than his hand would allow. If there was one thing about the Jedi that Kenobi had agreed with, it was their incessant need for knowledge. After all, there is no ignorance with the Force.

A hesitant knock came at the door and he rolled his eyes, waving his hand. A grimace greeted his face; didn't he say he didn't want to be bothered? “Enter.”

A page poked his head through the now-open door, likely looking for any potential items being thrown at his head. So he's aware of his indiscretion, Revis mused. Good.

“I'm sorry sir, I know you said you didn't want to be bothered, but it is important.” The page offered him a scrap of flimsi with a shaking hand, silvery eyes wide and pale with fear.

Revis rose, walking over to the scribe with a regal air he found around himself more and more. He took the scrap from the boy, reading it over before saying, “Anything else?”

“Yes, sir. The man who delivered the message asked that I make you jasmine tea and bring it with the message. It's on a cart in the hall, if you would like it,” the scribe offered, smiling through his fear. Revis was mildly impressed, gold eyes glinting in the light; he wasn’t stuttering over his words, he wasn’t deserving of punishement. Maybe there was hope for this one yet.

The page's words trembled, though, as he spoke, and Revis waved him off. The boy didn’t deserve a punishment. “Thank you. Dismissed.” The scribe bowed deeply before backing out of the room, fleeing down the hall whilst leaving the tea, his cloak flapping along behind him.

Jasmine: Urgent, action required immediately.

Well, that bode well for him. Kenobi brought the pot of tea over, ceramic hot in his hand, mulling the words of the note over whilst grabbing a cup out of his cupboard and sitting down, reading the message over a second time.

Urgent: contact me.

He didn't need to ask who it was. He knew. He always knew.

Lifting his comm, he dialed a number he had since learned by heart, mentally preparing himself for the task ahead. He swallowed the fear in him, shoving it down and locking it away. Darth Revis was never scared. He was never fearful. People were afraid of him, and especially his master. But not him. There was no excuse for fear. “Darth Revis,” the hooded man smiled, though it was more of a conniving grin. “I see you got my message.”

“Yes, Master,” Revis nodded, sipping at his tea. A knowing smile cut across his master’s face once again, but it faded as Revis spoke again. All business. That’s good. “What is thy bidding?”

“There are negotiations happening in the Separatist system of Yavin. I’m sure you know of it.”

“Of course. Lord Tyranus was speaking of it to me,” Revis hummed, patiently waiting to see what would come of it. Dooku, however, brought a foul taste to his mouth; he’d no love for the man, and his master was aware of that. Just a tool in the grand scheme of things, he’d been told. Kenobi was very, very okay with that.

“Good.... Go to them. Sabotage them.” Sidious paused, searching with a probing wisp of the Force. “And there is something you should know. Darth Navini is alive, and I wouldn't put it past your former lover to be in the middle of it all.”

Revis balked, but did his best to conceal that with a reassuring smile. “If Navini is there, Master, I will take care of it accordingly.” A nod of approval came from Sidious, eyes glinting under the hood.

“Attempt to bring this wayward child into custody if you can. If not.... Well. What you do to Navini is not my concern.”

“Yes, Master,” Revis smiled, and the comm was terminated with a flourish of a hand. Pity, he thought, looking down at the tea, steaming away. I didn't even have a proper cup.

He packed a small bag of food and clothes, not really concerned about much else, and clipped his saber onto the side of his belt. With one last sip of tea, he left his home and wandered into the Coruscanti city.  He may not have been born here, Revis mused, but he would always appreciate the people, and he was raised here. This place was his home, and no amount of Jedi could change that.

Along the way to the hangar, he stopped to get a cup of tea from a vendor, happily sipping away as he cheerfully walked onto his ship, doing a short routine check on the Ray before settling into the pilot’s seat, tea secured in his lap, before taking off.

Chai: comfort, relaxation. No need for stress.

Once Revis had set the coordinates for the jump to hyperspace, he went into the back and curled into a bed, buried in pillowy warmth.

He didn’t remember falling asleep, but he certainly remembered the dreams he had.

Revis stared at the defiant girl in front of him, gold eyes blazing with a righteous fury. She had stumped him many times, but now was different. Now there was blood to be spilled.

Previously, she had been chained. A mere 17, this former Jedi was malleable, ductile, able to be shaped and molded into a brilliant weapon that the Sith could use, could kill when it was necessary. But this one had a fire in her eyes, a strange balance within herself.... It reminded him of himself, when he was Obi-Wan Kenobi and before he was Revis. Not a Jedi, but certainly not a Sith. Something entirely outside of the Force binary flowed within and around her, bent to her will like a master’s weapon.

She had grown much since the last time they were truly together, like master and apprentice, or even like lovers.

He expected resistance when he first entered her mind. He watched for any sign of pain, of a break of her focus, the former Jedi padawan’s weakness his only goal. Only, once he was in her mind, it was empty. No rage, no fear, no memories; most importantly, no walls. She had learned how to successfully hide everything from everyone, even the most skilled manipulator in the galaxy, using a method considered obsolete and ineffective. He wanted to know who had taught her that. It certainly wasn't him, not in the time she was his Padawan.

In his shock, she took the opportunity to finally break her silence. “Surprise,” she croaked out, and spun at him with her saber, the same brilliant gold as her eyes and his, tight in her grip, blazed a triumphant blue in comparison.

That dream faded into the next, the same brilliant gold eyes staring back at him, lost in passion, in lust, in promises made only to be broken but neither of them cared, tangled together in the bedsheets as the ethereal glow of Mustafar shone into their room, washing everything in dull reds. She had been told of his abilities, of his abilities in tearing people apart only to reconstruct them the way he wanted them, the way they would be most beneficial for him. And this girl, this beautiful, gorgeous, lethal girl, was his next weapon.

Her sullen coos of “Master” and soft pleadings in her lyrical voice weren’t enough for him, his fingers teasing at her body, bringing tears to her eyes and her pleading to begging, a coy smile over the ginger's face as a line of kisses were pressed along her jaw and down the column of her neck, reaching further.... Further....

The beep of his comm woke him up, and he must have come out if hyperspace if it was going off. Heading to the cockpit and rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he answered it with a sleepy “Hello?”

“Kenobi,” the familiar voice of Ventress hissed out. “I need your help.”

Normally, he would make some innuendo in some sort of half-assed attempt to make her laugh, but the urgency in her voice broke that idea into tiny little shards. “Ventress, darling? What's wrong? What happened?”

“Dooku is going to kill me,” she hissed out, her eyes narrowed but fear all over her body. She looked over her shoulder, blurring the holo. Her eyes returned to Revis, and he felt deep remorse for her. The assassin was never fit to be a true Sith, but he felt a deep kinship with her nonetheless. They had bonded over taunting the girl’s master in Dooku, and Kenobi had even once formed a training bond with her.

“Need a place to lay low?”

Wordlessly, she nodded.

“Alright. Go to my house in Coruscant and lay low.... Dooku shouldn't go looking for you there. We can figure out what to do when I get back.” Revis paused, contemplating what to tell her next. “And Ventress?”

“Kenobi?”

“Try not to die.”

A small laugh left her throat, and her eyes sparkled with the sense of a challenge. “I'll always haunt you, Revis. Always.” She hung up, leaning Revis holding his tea cup that was now half full of cold tea.

He sighed, tossing it in a waste bin and calculating to make the next, far shorter jump. He clambered into the shower of the 'fresher, bleary-eyed and haunted by his dreams. Navini. He was certain she was dead-- but what if she wasn't? What if his master was right? Of course he's right, you fool, he knows all of these things, Revis snapped at himself, shaking himself free of the doubt. Though, his heart refused to believe that Navini was alive, not after what she’d done to him, to the Sith, and to herself.

His mind moved to a more pressing matter as he turned off the water, now icy cold, and dried off, pulling his soft tunic off the line. If Dooku is trying to kill Ventress, what kind of punishment would he get for interfering? Dooku is his equal, not his superior; plus, Darth Sidious always pushed the matter of protecting those you loved. Revis loved Ventress, in a way. She'd saved his ass on multiple occasions, and when Maul and Master Jinn died, she was the only one that had understood his pain of losing two masters on the same day, or at least attempted to. It was the least he could do; he owed her, and Darth Revis did not like being indebted.

He finished tying his tunic on, the gold-trimmed black cutting a brilliant contrast with his pale skin and reddish hair.

Fourteen years of being a Sith, and he still doubted himself. How.... Typical.

The hyperdrive beeped to let him know he was in the proper system, and he moved to the cockpit once more as he slowed and regrouped with Sep forces.

“This is Revis,” he called into the frequency, and the chatter that came back told him he was in the right place.

“Lord Revis! Lord Sidious said you would come,” an unfamiliar voice said cheerfully. He rolled his eyes. He despised these missions.

“Indeed. Requesting to dock with your vessel,” he hissed out, eyeing the Republic ship. How had they not spotted him yet? Jedi, he grunted. Always so oblivious. He pulled into the hangar bay, exiting the threat momentarily, though he couldn't shake the familiar Force signature on that star destroyer, one that he had spent years avoiding.  

On that said Republic ship, Anakin Skywalker watched the ship dock with the Separatists, sharp blue eyes following the oh-so-familiar signature within it. He couldn't place where he knew it from, but he did.

Ahsoka’s call from beside him, her hand weary on his arm, pulled him out of his reverie. “Master, we're getting ready to begin.”

“Huh? Oh. I'll be right there,” Anakin hummed, still staring at the spot by where the vessel had vanished.  

She nodded, but didn't move. “Master, are you well? You look pale.”

Anakin gave her a small smile, wishing he didn't have to lie to her. “Yeah, Snips. I'm fine.” He draped his arm around her shoulders, heading for the conference room. “Let’s go.”

*~*~*

Revis ran about the halls, dodging the guards and killing anyone who got in his way, red blade blazing for all hell. A bag of explosives in hand, now half-empty, he slunk around the catwalks of maintenance hallways, the Republic star destroyer not different than those years he spent aboard one with Qui-Gon.

“Master Revis, do you have everything in place yet?” The Separatist leader called through their mics, and he growled out a negative, that he needed more time.

“Too bad,” the leader snarled, and Revis didn't need to look at the explosives in his bag to know he had about five seconds to get the fuck away from them.

He ripped them off his body and bolted down the hallway, ripping around a corner and tripping as they went off.

He was mildly aware of the sound of a gunfight outside the ship, the shocks rolling the ship with each one. He shook his head of his bleariness, black spots vanishing from his sight as he snarled into his comm. “Big mistake,” he growled, feeling his anger rip through him at the leader.

A maniacal laughing came across the comm, and Revis was on the hunt, comm ripped out of his ear and eyes seeing nothing but red and black. It wasn't hard to find the leader who'd double-crossed him, red blade blazing in his hand and anger in his eyes. There was no time to make him suffer, regretfully, but there was time to kill him.

The leader looked up at him with wide, fearful eyes. He found some sort of sickening joy in it, or at least it would have been sickening to the Jedi. A slick smile crossed his face, but there was nothing but murderous intent behind it. Revis was out of the game too long, and the term The Negotiator had lost its sting. Unfortunately, there was no time for mind games. If the leader begged, it fell on deaf ears, the Sith’s red blade coming down on him in an instant. It would have to do.

A sharp look was sent to the others in the room, an unspoken warning of If you cross me, you'll be just like him. They nodded in understanding, the Sith smirking. “Good,” he snarled, wasting no further time with the damned Separatists. He bolted out of the room and down the hallways, cloak flapping along behind him, somehow managing to avoid the collapsing beams as he did so.

He was seriously missing that cup of tea.

*~*~*

Anakin was getting really, really tired of finding himself on broken, burning ships. The scent of sulfur clung to him as burning durasteel collapsed around him, the Jedi Knight leaping from beam to beam in an attempt to not die. Just a simple mission, they said. It would be easy, they said. Anakin was really starting to think the Council was really trying to kill him. And this time, he thought, they might have succeeded. If he lived to tell the tale, he was going to punch Yoda right in his little green nose and throw Mace out of the damned window. Despite his bitterness, he wasn’t likely to do that. He rather liked his job, despite his grievances. He lived for the thrill, and maybe -- he would never tell Quinlan Vos this -- for the bonus points with the women at bars.

“General Skywalker!” Rex called through Anakin’s comm. “Waiting for you at the hangar bay.”

“Go!” Anakin howled into it, leaping into the edge of a platform and getting the wind knocked out of him. “I’ll meet you back on Coruscant,” he continued, barely getting his breath back and groaning as he continued running.

“Sir—”

“Take Ahsoka and get out of here! That’s an order!” he snapped, and the sad, weary affirmative crackled through before the connection went dead. Anakin spared a moment in his break for the hangar to look down at it; the poor thing had been crushed by the sheer force with which Anakin was gripping it and the crumbling ship.

He tossed it aside, frustrated, and skidded into the hangar bay as he rounded a corner, narrowly missing a falling beam, diving over the smoldering durasteel and rolling, head over heels, and landing in a neat crouch, surveying the hangar bay. Two ships not semi-crushed by the falling durasteel were still flyable, and he bolted to the closer of the two, narrowly missing getting pinned by two beams. He was not so lucky, however, in crashing into someone else.

Anakin slid back on his back, saber in his hand and ignited faster than the average eye could track. The other man, clad in gold-trimmed black, had only staggered, his face hidden in shadow by his cloak. A silence fell over them that seemed to last for an eternity, and then the figure in black made his move, drawing a saber from the drapey confines of his cloak. “No one told me the Chosen One would be here,” he sing-songed happily, spinning a black-hilted blade between his fingers. The crimson blade sprung to life once the man’s palm rested on it, dancing red light across the jawline of the figure.

Anakin swore under his breath in Huttese, muttering, “This is so not how I thought this day was going to go,” and dove to the side to avoid falling debris. Electric blue eyes met gold, and he saw something in those eyes that was warm, familiar, and friendly; Anakin shook himself of that sensation. This man was a Sith Lord, not a Jedi. He was a Separatist, for all Anakin knew.

But he digressed.

“Listen,” Anakin finally said, not dropping his guard. “If we stay here, we will both die. I don’t wish to die today, and I’m reasonably convinced you don’t either.”

“Running away from a fight?” the Sith Lord teased, and Anakin sucked in a breath, eyes narrowing on the far ship, just over the Sith’s shoulder.

“For once,” Anakin hummed, almost to himself, “I’m doing something that’s not crazy and suicidal.”

The Jedi disengaged his saber, but kept a firm grip on it as he ran up a fallen beam and flipped over the Sith, using the Force to land twenty or so feet away, looking over his shoulder at him. The Sith made no move to follow, simply watching him, as if he were a circus act. Amusement seemed to radiate from him, and it only frustrated the Jedi further. As Anakin made a move towards the ship, he should have kriffing knew that something was going to happen. It was just too easy.

A piece of debris flew past his face, and one took out his legs, effectively knocking him over. Anakin scrabbled for his saber, which had scattered across the floor upon impact.

“Last I checked,” the Sith said, walking over to him as if he had all the time in the world, “the Chosen One, the Defiant, the Hero with No Fear, did not listen to logic.

Anakin was sure he had a smart-ass remark for that, but he kept his mouth shut for once as he hauled himself off the ground, saber in hand and their sabers humming in some sickening, deadly harmony. They circled each other, eyes narrowed, searching for a gap in the other’s mental defenses. The Sith’s black cloak gently brushed the floor as he walked, hanging from his shoulders like a regal gown, and his golden eyes glowed out in amusement as they paced.

Another set of debris came flying at Anakin, and both were destroyed, the pieces clattering to the ground, the easy movements graceful and contained.

“Shii-Cho,” the Sith remarked. “Isn’t that a little emotional for a Jedi?”

When Anakin didn’t reply, the Sith came attacking, his hood flying down but Anakin was too concerned on not getting his legs cut off— because honestly, who cuts at the leg in a fight? That’s just cheating! – and was barely able to parry the man’s furious blows. The shock from them seemed to send waves of power into his body, fuelling him as well as scaring him. He finally managed to shove the ginger off – wait, was the Sith really ginger? – and gasp for breath, the man’s golden eyes and terrifying, sadistic, sensual smile cutting the smug complexion. Not now, Anakin, not now, he told himself, shoving back other thoughts that came to the surface.

“So quiet,” he teased, “I thought the Chosen One was known for his defiance of the Council?”

Don’t say anything, Anakin, don’t say anything— “What would you know about the Council?” Anakin shot back. He immediately kicked himself. You had one job, Anakin, one job.

The Sith only laughed, a cold, conniving sound, and they circled each other. As Anakin awaited his response, he noted the resting move, the crimson blade so close to the face of the Sith and lighting the gold in a blazing glory of yellow and orange. Soresu. “I know a lot more about the Council than you might think,” he warned, flying in with a downward stab. Anakin met it with an upwards block, his hands resting on his shoulder in an attempt to gain more strength in the block. The Jedi Knight risked a jab, and it threw the Sith off, allowing Anakin a sweeping cut at his legs. Cheating? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

Finally, as the ship started to give way, they had to battle not only each other but the falling beams of durasteel as well. The Sith shoved Anakin back one last time, the Jedi skidding down on his back towards one of the other ships. “Go, Chosen One,” the Sith laughed, pointing with the tip of his crimson blade to the ship. “We will meet again.”

Stunned, Anakin watched the ginger go, staring at the curve of his body and how he swung his cloak back over his shoulders to hide the golden dragon embroidered across his shoulders. “What kind of Sith are you?” Anakin shouted at his retreating back.

The ginger turned, saying, “One you will be spending a great deal of time thinking about, I assure you,” and boarded his ship, flying out moments later.

Anakin watched him go, still on his back, and then became acutely aware of the fact that the ship was still falling apart and took off, into the ship. He flipped a switch, muttering to himself as he got the piece of junk up and flying, taking off and out of the hangar just as the rest of the ship crumbled behind him.

He leaned back into the captain’s chair, looking at the bruises that were already starting to form. Burns dotted his skin, and he tried to recall the man’s face. Ginger hair, he concluded, a beard, a sharp jaw…

But with training like that, he was indeed going to be thinking about that Sith for a very, very long time. Soresu, he finally thought to himself. How odd. He got the comms up and running, patching into the ship that the Clones and he had taken that morning after a little toggling. “Captain Rex,” he called. “It’s good to see you.”

The captain shimmered to life on a blue hologram, joy and elation on his face. “General Skywalker! You made it!”

“Barely, my dear friend, barely,” he laughed, cradling his arm, and then said, “but is Ahsoka there? I need to see her.”

“OUTTA MY WAY, REX, Ahsoka’s voice shouted from somewhere out of his view, and his young Padawan shoved the Clone out of her path so she was the only one in the projection. Anakin smiled at her, and she smoothed her cloak, which was haphazardly draped across her shoulders. She looked sleepy, as if she had just woken up. “Hello, Skyguy.”

“Hey, Snips. Where are you? I can possibly make a rendezvous,” Anakin started, but Ahsoka shook her head.

“We’re only a parsec from Coruscant. I don’t think we could turn back unless you absolutely needed a rescue, Master.”

Anakin made a face and sighed. “Alright. I’ve gotta own up to Master Windu…. Wish me luck. Hopefully he won’t behead me the second I land.”

Ahsoka laughed. “I doubt he will. You’re too powerful,” she joked, and then said, “Honestly, though, I don’t think he will. I’m glad you made it out, Master. I’ll comm Ronin, I hear she’s somewhere in the vicinity.”

“I am too,” he murmured. “I’ll fill you in on what happened when I’m done with the Council. And if you could, that would be great. One of these days, you actually have to meet her.”

“I know. Try not to get yourself killed, Skyguy. Ahsoka, out.”

The comm went dead, leaving Anakin in the cold silence of space. A few moments later, a familiar ship entered the system, allowing Anakin to dock with it.

Anakin had heard stories from Ronin about her ship the Ghost and the feats the woman had managed with it; how, though, he questioned greatly. How she came upon the name Ronin was also a mystery to him, as was much of her past. A naturally private person, he’d learned not to pry into her affairs; it ended badly for him once, and he still has a scar. As he docked with the Ghost, he tried to forget about how a blind woman was somehow able to fly a ship without the help of a droid much safer than he ever could, but he digressed. He opened up the docking port and climbed through, clambering straight up into the cockpit.

“Welcome, Master Skywalker,” a joking voice said, “to my humble abode.”

Ronin smiled from her copilot’s seat, a winking, lovely look on her face, and Anakin settled in the pilot’s. “I don’t want you to even attempt flying,” he grunted at her. “Not with me in the ship, at least.”

“Oh please, Anakin, I fly just fine,” the girl harrumphed, teal hair tied up in a dirty mess and scars across her eyes buried under layers of makeup, very Nabian in nature. Anakin’s first thought was that Padme would have been proud. He set the coordinates back to Coruscanti space, leaning back up against the seat as they made the jump to hyperspace. He let out a tense breath, wincing as he consciously relaxed injured parts of his body. The gash on his ribs wasn’t deep and was cauterized shut from the lightsaber blade, but it would scar. They always do.

“I would say you look like hell, but we both know that I can’t see,” Ronin finally joked in the middle of a long silence.

Anakin laughed, a tired, weak sound, but no less genuine. “One of these days, I’m gonna convince the Council to meet you,” he hummed. “But they would probably hate you as much as they hate me.” Ronin laughed, her smiling face a contrast to the weeks spent with the negotiations squad on the pinnacle-class star destroyer. It was a relief, being away from political matters and around someone who had such a casual feel to her, as if one could say anything and be anyone and she would accept you.

“I don’t feel like dying, thanks. So, are you going to tell me what happened?” Ronin asked, crossing her arms over her white dress top and gray pants, legs crossed at the ankles as she absently spun in her seat, giggling as she slowed herself and tried to get her bearings.

“I will. After I tell the Council,” Anakin smiled, winking. “You should know I do have to follow protocol, Ronin.”

She rolled her eyes and harrumphed, standing up. “I’ll grab you a blanket. You probably need some rest, Anakin.”

“Yeah, you could say that,” he sighed, and a few moments later, she returned with the blanket, some water, and food. Anakin took them with a mumbled, exhausted thanks, drinking the water before going into the back and collapsing on the floor, chewing on the bitter chocolate bar.

Anakin’s entire body ached, and his navy robes were cut up and burned where they had made contact with either his or the Sith’s saber. In hindsight, he realized, Anakin should have expected a Sith, but he hadn’t even seen the blow coming; what if it jeopardized his mission? What if the Sith was the one who sent the Separatists that shot down the ship? As he wrapped himself in his clothes and blankets once more, his last thought was that what ifs were not going to solve this issue.

Anakin Skywalker was going to find him, and bring him to justice, and kill him if need be.

Darth Revis waited in the debris field, his black chrome ship floating with the durasteel scraps. His heart had dropped to the floor, and tears rolled down his face. He lifted a hand to wipe at the trail, staring in confusion at his wet hand.

The ship the Skywalker child had docked with shot off into hyperspace, but it wasn't the return of his former master's replacement for him that bothered the Sith.

Navini lived.

He swallowed dryly, deciding that Mustafar was a far better option than dealing with the Jedi backlash that was sure to follow. His hands shook on the console, the normally stock-still Sith trembling at the thought of what was to follow. What was it? He had no clue.

“I’ll do whatever needs to be done,” he'd told his master.

Now, he was very, very afraid of the consequences.

He picked up his comm, and with a shaky hand, dialed his master.

~*~*~

Ronin woke Anakin up when they hit Coruscanti airspace, the oddly well-traveled bartender only smiling at him. The groggy Jedi looked up at her sadly, and then as if realizing where he was, panicked and looked around for the feared Jedi Master Mace Windu. “Anakin, you know I avoid associating with the Jedi publicly,” she smiled, and the silvery scars across her eyes moved with the muscle movement.

Anakin relaxed, smiling with relief as he stood. “I know, I know. But maybe you should come in, you know? Meet everyone? Say hello?” Anakin pushed, almost begging his friend with his hand on hers. They had been through so much together, survived so much, and he felt like it was the best thing he could do to repay her.

She only smiled at the ground, teal hair in sheets around her. “I cannot, Anakin. Many of my customers would be…. Disappointed if I did so.”

Anakin took a deep breath. Her questionable clientele wasn’t his concern; her valuable information had saved his life several times, and it most likely would continue to, but the last thing he wanted was to risk her life. He was a Jedi, not a soldier. He hated the war as much as Ronin did, as much as anyone did, really.

“Fine,” he finally said, sighing. “But I’ll get you, one day, in front of that council.”

Ronin only faintly smiled, gently pushing Anakin towards the docking port. “Go, you goofball. I’ll see you after you talk with the Jedi, yes?”

Anakin nodded, preparing to jump down into the ship. “You can count on that.”

She smiled, waving him off. “Go. Go deal with your Jedi friends.”

He smiled, gently shoving her shoulder back, and then paused at the door to the cockpit, something making him stop. Call it a feeling, call it a premonition or foreshadowing; he only felt what he did. “Ronin?” he called to her, his back to her.

“I recall telling you to leave,” she joked, flipping switches and arguing her presence with the airspace controllers in a jumbled, angry local dialect.

“Do you have Maul’s saber still?”

She hesitated, fear now rolling off of her in waves as she weighed his words before replying. “Of course. Why?”

“Keep it close by. You might need it,” Anakin hummed, and then stepped out of the cockpit, dropping down into the docking port of his own ship and settling into the pilot’s seat. He detached from Ronin’s ship, the two of them flying off in opposite directions. He dialed a local comm number, the angry face of Mace Windu appearing in a blue holographic glory of horror.

“Skywalker, where have you been? Your Padawan has been here for hours waiting for you,” he all but howled, and Anakin did his best not to flinch.

“Had to hitch a ride; ship I stole didn’t have the fuel or firepower for me to make the trip on my own. I’m sure you’d find it ironic that I’d freeze to death in hyperspace, but I’d rather not,” he grunted dryly, bags under his eyes deeper than ever.

Kriff, Anakin, did you really just say that? He shouted at himself internally, but kept his tongue this time.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Windu snarled.

Anakin rolled his eyes, biting his tongue. “Nothing, Master Windu. The moment I land, I need an audience with the Council. The negotiations in the Yavin system didn’t exactly…. Go according to plan. And it wasn’t my fault this time,” Anakin defended at the annoyed look on the man’s face.

Mace rolled his eyes, attempting poorly to hide his annoyance at the young Jedi. “You need a whole hell of a lot more than that, Skywalker; just get here. Your Padawan awaits you in the hangar bay. Windu, out.” The comm was terminated, leaving Anakin to his own devices as he lowered the ship into the bay and cutting the power, somehow regretting the decision to remain a Jedi. He would favor death to dealing with the Council again.

“Skyguy!” Ahsoka called as Anakin gingerly descended from the dock of his borrowed-slash-stolen ship, his entire body sore and wounds dotting his body, shallow and half-healed, but still tender nonetheless. She rushed to hug him, the Jedi grunting as he gently wrapped his arms around her himself.

“Easy there, Snips,” he finally groaned. “A lot of stuff happened after you left.”

“You shouldn’t have made me leave,” Ahsoka growled, letting go of him as they tottered to the Council chambers.

“You would have died, Ahsoka,” Anakin sniffed, hiding his pain behind an expressionless face. “I was lucky.

“The great Anakin Skywalker got lucky?” Ahsoka sniffed as they entered the chamber. “What did you have to face that you oh-so-heroically escaped from?”

There were traces of sarcasm in her tone, but neither the Council nor Anakin said anything. For him, it was a breath of fresh air, away from the seriousness he had been through. The questioning gazes of the Jedi in front of him only pushed his determination forward, and then he said, “After the Sep attack on the Republic Star Destroyer in the Yavin system, I was fleeing after making sure all delegates—and Clones—were off the ship, as you know. However, what you don’t know,” Anakin started, taking a breath, “is that a Sith was there, as if he were looking for me. Or, rather, he was looking for a Jedi.”

“Another Sith?” Ahsoka quietly breathed. “The last one….”

“Killed my master. Yes, I am aware, Ahsoka,” Anakin spat bitterly, and almost immediately regretted it. She shrunk away from him, but did not waver from his side. What did he do to deserve her loyalty?

“Escape, how did you?” Yoda finally asked, and Anakin grimaced, clutching at a rather deep wound on his side—how had that gotten there?—before answering.

“He let me go,” Anakin replied, careful to keep his frustration and anger in check in his exhausted and temperamental state.

Let you go?” Windu snarled, almost losing his temper. “Sith don’t let people go, Skywalker.”

Anakin closed his eyes to gather himself, Mace’s anger not being something he wanted to deal with right then, or right ever for that matter. “Well, this one did, Master Windu,” Anakin shot back. “And there’s more.” The Council looked at each other in annoyed shock at his outburst, but none chided him for once. Ahsoka’s energies were swirling around him, attempting to protect and heal him like she always tried, and it helped bring his temper back down to a manageable level. “The ship and hangar bay were collapsing around us. Both of us had to dodge falling beams, sheets of metal; I appealed to his self-preservation. I don’t think he was there looking for a Jedi to fight or kill; he was there to sabotage the negotiations… which obviously worked. And I think he was a Jedi once,” Anakin finally finished.

The room sat in stiff silence, Mace Windu and Yoda looking the most troubled out of the bunch. The two Master Jedi exchanged worried glances, but kept other emotions carefully under lock and key. Even Ahsoka picked up on the uneasy body language of the Council before him.

“That’s quite the accusation, Skywalker,” Master Kloon finally said, breaking his silence.

“How many born-Sith fight in Form III, Masters? Soresu? None. That’s how many. It’s not in their forms, not in the way they operate. Soresu is a very Jedi technique, and not one that’s easy to learn without instruction,” Anakin argued, his tired pain leaking through his words.  

“So, Count Dooku taught him,” he heard Mace say.

Anakin shook his head, hands clasped limply behind his back. “Dooku hates Soresu, and he certainly wouldn’t teach it to an apprentice. No, I’m almost certain this Sith was a Jedi. He even commented on my Shii-Cho form, Masters—that’s not a Sith tradition, either. So either he’s really good at mind games, or he’s a former Jedi.”

Master Mundi had been watching this entire exchange go on, listening but not speaking. Ahsoka looked up at Anakin, fear hidden deep in her stomach; but it was so strong she wanted to throw up. Anakin felt her fear, and he was certain the rest of the Council did as well. Both he and Ahsoka were known for their emotions, it seemed, and their ability to trust; which, apparently, the rest of the Council lacked. Finally, the voice of Master Mundi graced the room, cutting the tension. “Anakin, you bring a deadly point to our attention. If this Sith was a Jedi….”

The room went silent, and then Mace whispered, “Revis.

“Don’t fool yourselves, Masters,” Luminara huffed, almost indignant. “Revis and Navini have been dead for nearly a decade.” A decade, Anakin mused. It had been nearly a decade since Master Jinn died. A decade was a lot of time, a lot of time for things to go wrong or change.

“Revis wouldn’t come back from the dead anyway,” Anakin smiled. “What brings this up?”

“Revis was a former Jedi. In fact, he was Qui-Gon’s apprentice before you,” Ahsoka blurted out, and the others stared at her. “Sorry. I’ve been reading the holorecords again.”

“No,” Mace sighed. “She’s right. His name was Obi-Wan Kenobi, and defected shortly after you were initiated. However, we didn’t know that he had, indeed, defected until after his death. Navini had left all his personal records on Kenobi since Revis was his teacher, all the things he’d discovered whilst training under him. Rumor has it, Navini didn’t even die as a result of the wounds sustained from the battle with Revis—he died as a result of his own doing.”

“Which would be?” Anakin asked, confused.

“He flung himself out of an airlock in the middle of Wild Space, or so it goes,” Luminara said bluntly. “No one really knows if Navini is really dead, but the Sith don’t tolerate traitors—and that’s why we think he’s dead.”

“So, what do we know about Navini?” Anakin asked, eyes flitting from member to member as they figured out what to say

There was a silence in the room after Anakin finished his question, the Council members looking around and trying to see if it was worth telling him. Finally, Ahsoka raised her voice, trying to hide the tremble in it; she was rarely scared by the Jedi Council, but news of a Sith would startle anyone. “Darth Navini was a mystery to anyone outside the Sith. Some sightings of him report a woman, others a male—some human, some not, but the constant blend of Ataru, Soresu, and Vaapad in the dueling forms were the only constant other than those who survived were meant to survive. Other than that…. No one knows. The only one who would, Revis, was killed.”

“No, he wasn’t,” Anakin breathed quietly. “I have a hunch to hunt down, Masters. By your leave?” He asked, his voice stronger than his body or his will to live at that point. If his hunch was right, he was very, very likely a dead man.

“Go, Skywalker. Don’t leave this planet without telling us,” Mace waved him off, and the Master and Padawan turned their backs, striding out of the room.

The second the doors shut, both Anakin and Ahsoka let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding. “I hate doing that,” Ahsoka grumbled.

Anakin laughed, patting her on the shoulder. “Come on, Snips, street clothes. We have a mission.”

*~*~*

Minutes later they were on the holorail, Anakin planning out what he would say to Ahsoka in his head whilst ignoring his bodily pain and exhaustion. Ahsoka, meet Ronin. Ronin, meet Ahsoka. Though you’ve met over the comms? He shook his head, tossing that one aside. No. Think, Skywalker, think! Surely you can think of something that would help you out here. He ran his hands through his hair, and Ahsoka finally said, “Master, where are we even going?”

The holorail came to a halt and Anakin rose. “This is our stop. Keep a close hand on your bag, Ahsoka; this isn’t the type of place for people like you and I.” He took a step off the platform, hood pulled low over his eyes and carefully watching for anyone who might hold a threat. Ahsoka cautiously followed, tucking her Padawan chain into her hood, and followed her Master closely, not saying a word to anyone or even looking at anything. Anakin’s silent brooding was troubling to her, though his energies were relatively balanced, if not worried. She had always been particularly sensitive to his energy, and his alone. He stopped, and heard a quiet, “We’re here,” before he pushed open the door to a bar whose door read closed. Ahsoka warily followed, Anakin hearing her quiet footsteps behind him as he entered the dark, dusty bar. A familiar teal-haired girl was behind the bar, cleaning mugs and carefully making her way around.

“Anakin! I’m so glad you came. I—” She paused, and then said, “who is it that you bring with you, Jedi?” Her voice went from happy and welcoming to deadly and dangerous in an instant, the girl’s eyes narrowed and ready for anything.

“Oh. This is my Padawan, Ahsoka. I believe you’ve met, in a way,” Anakin explained, grimacing as he stepped the wrong way. His breath caught as he spoke, and Ronin raised an eyebrow.

“Ah, indeed,” Ronin replied cheerfully, though she didn’t miss his wince of pain. “Interesting energies, she has. I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Uh, Master?” Ahsoka quietly asked. “Is she okay?”

Ronin raised her eyebrows, and spat, “Young one, my experience on the battlefield outweighs both yours and your master’s put together, and you have me to thank for his life.” Ronin suddenly realized what she said, silvery gold eyes widening. “Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that; it’s just been a long trip, and I just broke a glass and I can’t find the shards. Alex is in the Dagobah system, I think, and stars know why, I suppose.”

“I’ll get the glass, don’t worry,” Anakin said, and Ronin hopped up on the bar while Anakin swept, the broom a steady rhythm he somehow found comfort in. Hells, he found comfort in just about anything if he was around Ronin.

“Why don’t you clean it up yourself?” Ahsoka asked, and Anakin shot out a sharp “Ahsoka!

Ronin laughed, shaking her head. “Calm down, Anakin, she didn’t mean it like that.” She hopped off the bar, leaning towards the general direction of Ahsoka. “You see, Ahsoka, I’m blind. I can sense energies, but other than that, I cannot see. So, therefore, since transparisteel is not a living being, I cannot tell where it is and where it’s not. I’ve lived this long without cutting my fingers off, and I’m not about to turn into your master with that hand of his.”

“Hey!” Anakin protested, and Ronin rolled her eyes, sarcastically huffing in response.

“Anakin, please,” she retorted, “if I wanted one of those so bad, I would cut off my own arm!”

Ahsoka chuckled a bit, resting at the bar, watching the playful dynamic between her master and his friend. “So how did you lose your sight?”

Ronin opened her mouth to answer as her hand laid on Anakin’s said mechanical arm, tracing the mechanical components under the leather glove he wore in a practiced and gentle form of affection, but her lips fell silent, her eyes narrowed, and she then hissed, “Revis. He’s alive.”

“That’s what I came to talk to you about,” Anakin murmured. “This Sith, Ronin, he fought like a Jedi—he fought like you do.” Ahsoka briefly wondered how her master knew how this girl fought, but then again, what did she know about her? Nothing, that’s what.

“Soresu, Ataru, and Juyo,” Ronin nodded. “Personally, Ataru is too restricting for me, but I understand. I…. I once studied under Revis, before….” She touched the scars across her eyes, and her anger flared, though there was no physical change in her face. “Before he took my sight, on order of Darth Maul.”

“So you’re the one who helped my Master,” Ahsoka smiled. “But you dined with a Sith?”

“Hells, Ahsoka,” Ronin laughed, “I bedded him once, well, more than once. I did Padme Amidala once, as well, before she tragically passed. A life taken too soon, in my opinion; she did us much good.” Ronin poured herself and Anakin a drink, and then asked, “Ahsoka, do you want some liquor, or do you just want something to drink?”

With a look to Anakin, who had shrugged his indifference, she simply sighed and said, “I’ll have a water, please.”

“Good girl,” Ronin said, grabbing a glass and filling it with water. “Don’t drink. It’s bad for you.” She raised her glass and said, “To Padme!”

Anakin echoed her, and they both drank their shots, watching as their movements seemed synchronized in a way. The Togruta girl raised an eyebrow, then said, “Are you two—”

“No,” they both denied, voices in unison. They glanced at each other and snorted, giggling like schoolchildren.

“Trust me, I tried,” Ronin winked. “A fine catch, Anakin would have been. He’s still too devastated over Padme, I suppose, or he just can’t deal with ditching his oh-so-lovely celibacy.”

“Ronin!” he groaned, his face turning bright red and burying it in the sleeves of his cloak.

“Oh, Anakin, please,” she groaned. “I’m only teasing. Besides, I have Alex. Why would I want you?”

“For his dashing charm,” Ahsoka proferred teasingly, elbowing her master gingerly in the arm. He waved her off, his ears burning red over the sleeves and under his curly blond hair.

Ronin snorted. “And along with that, I get all the sarcasm I wanted, political bullshit, the entire Jedi Council hating me more than they already do, Anakin losing his life, and, not to mention, his tendency to find himself in deadly situations. No, I think I’ll leave what happened with Anakin and Padme in the past and not repeat that, thanks.”

A silence rang out over the room, a gentle and easy silence, and then Ahsoka asked, “You said you studied under Darth Revis. Why?” A warning radiated from Anakin through the Force, but Ahsoka ignored it.

“I sought knowledge. He sought a companion. Our arrangement was beneficial for both of us, until we were bored of it; then his Master, Maul, found out about us, and he was forced to blind me. Blind revenge caused me to save Anakin, not of my own free will.” Ronin shrugged. “Though, at this point, he owes me big time.”

“That I do, Ronin, that I do.” Anakin stretched, having finally recovered, then said, “What else can you tell us about him?”

Ronin swallowed uncomfortably, her face turning red. “The man is a passionate lover and a hateful warrior. His skills are unlike that I’ve seen before, either in holorecords or in person. I have studied under Dark Jedi, Jedi, and Sith, and under those who claim heritage of the ways of the Gray, and I have never encountered someone else who could combat him and hope to win.” She rolled her shoulders, sighing. “Navini…. Navini thought she killed him. I was friends with her, Navini. She was a lost Jedi, one who fell before she was even truly a Jedi. I held her in my arms as she died. Now, I suppose, it is my job to finish what she started.”

“That would be reckless,” Anakin growled. “I won’t let you do that.”

Ronin looked at the hand that was on her bicep, more of a reaction than of any actual visual shock. Ahsoka’s eyebrows raised, and Ronin smiled faintly. Anakin’s desire to protect her was strong, Ahsoka noted, but what did that entail for the Jedi? “Then come with me, Anakin Skywalker. Help me. I may be stronger in the Force than you but I am older, more well-taught. If you would listen to me, you would become stronger than you could even fathom.”

“The Dark Side consumes, Ronin, you know that,” Anakin growled, letting go of her arm. He looked almost apologetic, though he didn’t seem to be upset either.

Only if you let it, Anakin. Only if you let it. The Jedi don’t even let you use the full extent of the Light, because it’s ‘too lethal.’ What else is it? A death sentence if you can’t use your own craft completely and wholly?” Ronin rolled her eyes. “That’s why I left the tutelage of the Jedi. Darth Revan was one of the strongest users known to the Galaxy and yet, you refuse to see that you can know the Force, what it is capable of, and still never use what you’re not comfortable with. And if you want to fight Revis, you’re going to have to understand that, Anakin.” Ronin sighed, going to scrub at the glasses on the counter that were filthy still. “He’s here, on this planet. You would do well to make yourselves scarce, maybe even leave the system. The Force is buzzing with evil doings, ones even I cannot fathom.”

“I won’t leave you here,” Anakin barked, how voice low and determined.

Anakin Skywalker,” Ronin hissed, leaning on the bar table directly towards him, eyes narrowed and tense. “This game you think this is might get you killed. Darth Revis is deadly, and he tore you up badly by playing with you. If he wanted you dead, you would be.” Ahsoka gingerly set down her mug, the water gone but her stomach still in knots. She watched the turmoil, her master’s blue eyes angry and Ronin’s frustrated, silvery-gold gaze.

Anakin leaned back in his chair, ironically laughing and shaking his head. Of course, he said to himself, and did his best to rein in his anger. A silence fell on them, and the Force slowly faded away, Anakin glaring at the floor. Ahsoka took a deep breath, studying Ronin as she furiously scrubbed at a glass, cleaning the dust off of it.

“Are you a Sith?” she suddenly asked Ronin, her voice soft and gentle.

The teal-haired bartender bit the inside of her cheek, hesitating before she turned to the young Jedi. “In a past life, maybe I was. But no, I’m not. I’m no Jedi, I’m no Sith, but I know the Force, and I know Revis better than that. I could tell you what game to play to get in his head, but you, Anakin, wouldn’t like it.”

Anakin leaned forward, pants brushing the bar base. “What is it?”

Ronin sighed, her knuckles white as she gripped something, something out of Ahsoka’s sight. With a sigh, she lifted it and set it on the table. Anakin clearly recognized it, and looked at her, confused. “I don’t understand.”

“When Revis blinded me, he left me, left what he and I had built. I loved him, Anakin. I would have killed for him. I,” she paused, gathering herself and trying to ignore the emotion building up in her chest, “I did kill for him, and all because I loved him. But there is one game you can play to make him trust you; and that is to love him. Unconditionally. Kill for him, fight for him, and sleep with him; give him something to love, and he’ll love you back. Then you can tear him apart.” Ronin ignited the item, and Ahsoka discovered it to be a saber, red-bladed and dual-edged. Maul’s saber. “You’ll fall, Anakin, and you will have to rise out of it.”

Anakin shook his head. “No. I won’t do that. The Jedi are my life, Ronin. I’ll just kill him.”

Ronin’s hand snatched out at his shoulder, grabbing the fabric and pulling him in over the bar. Ahsoka panicked, her green saber in her hand as she prepared to leap to the defense of her master. “Anakin, you’re not getting it,” she snarled, and then dropped him, the red and green lights washing everything in an interesting shade of brown. “I’ll do it myself. Forget I said anything.”

The room was tense, Ronin fuming as she furiously scrubbed at the mugs on the counter, tears threatening to stream down her face. The red staff spluttered out and died, and Ahsoka’s saber was put away as well, leaving the room an uncomfortable silence.

Anakin’s face was tight, sheet white. His fingers opened and closed, digging half-moons of blood into his palms, and then said, “What happens if I do fall?”

“What does it matter, you said you wouldn’t do it,” she spat out. “Go on, Anakin. If you love your Jedi so much, you tell them to teach you how to fight a Sith who knows the Force better than you can ever hope to know.” She turned from Anakin to Ahsoka, sighing. “I’m sorry, Ahsoka. Our dynamic is not usually this violent, I assure you. The return of Revis is bad news for us all.” She cocked her head, then her eyes flashed open with fear. “Leave. Now. Leave and come back in two hours.”

“Ronin?” Anakin asked as she set the mug down and picked up her saber. “What’s wrong?”

A small smirk graced her face. “I haven’t fought in so long, Anakin. Go, I’ll be fine. Listen to my instruction, then come back.” Ronin made her way to the center of the room and sat down, legs crossed. “Go, Anakin, or I will make sure you leave.”

Anakin begrudgingly nodded after some hesitation, and the two Jedi left the bar. A few minutes later, when they were back on the holorail, Anakin wrapped Ahsoka in his arms. “We will ride around the city, basically to avoid explaining ourselves to the Council,” he told her, and she nodded, drifting off in his arms. When had they last slept, anyway? It seemed like an eternity to him, the Togruta girl’s head slipping down from his chest to his lap.

Anakin followed closely behind her, drifting off into the realm of sleep. Something, he knew, was very, very wrong.